Right Before

by Nancy Casey

Today, like every day, is a good day to celebrate all the things you have done right.

A good way to do that is with an exercise called Before That where you start in the present tense and then work your way backwards through time, starting every new thought with “Before that…”

While you set up your page, think about all the things that you do or have done right. When you do something right, it doesn’t need your attention anymore and it’s easy to forget about it.

Let your mind wander around to your many areas of competence while you draw a line across the top of the page where your title will go. Set aside a space for doodling or illustration if that seems right to you. Keep thinking about the different kinds of things you do right.

Think of all the things you know how to do. The things you have fixed. Things you have kept from breaking, freezing, getting wet or drying out. People or pets who would have starved without you.

Every time you do something good for yourself, you are doing something right, so don’t skip over any of those. Remind yourself of all the things your body does right without your needing to pay attention: breathing, digesting, dreaming…

When you try to do something and it doesn’t work out the way you planned, you might not like it, but you still did a lot of things right.  Trying, for instance. And learning.

When you try something new and the whole enterprise is successful, you have clearly done all kinds of things right.  Has that ever happened to you? What did you do right before that?

Start with right now. You are doing your own writing.  You can’t possibly do it wrong. Describe yourself writing and how you are doing it right. Then write the words “Before that …” and continue on describing something you did right before you started writing. At the end of that thought, write “Before that…” and soon you will remember something you did right earlier.

Keep going down the page that way, using the words “Before that …” to start each new thought, skipping backwards in time from one thing you did right to the next.

When the page is full, read over your work. Make small changes if you need to. Add some color or decoration to the page if you haven’t already. When you are satisfied with the page, give it a title and write the date on it, too.

The page will be just one more thing you did right.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. She taught the Write-For-You writing class at the Recovery Center last summer and will return again in the spring. For more information about classes and writing certificates, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

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